Will 2016 be repeated in US? Can Trump tilt scales or Biden walks away with clear win?

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(MS Shanker)

We.., the national polls in US are considered to be a good guide as to how popular a candidate is across the country as a whole. But they’re not necessarily a good way to predict the result of the election.

Reason; what happened in 2016 shall be an eye opener. Democrats candidate Hillary Clinton, in fact, led in the polls and won nearly three million more votes than Donald Trump, but she still lost. That’s because the US uses an electoral-college system and hence winning the most votes doesn’t always win you the election.

Joe Biden though being projected in surveys as being ahead of Donald Trump in most national polls since the start of the year, yet none cannot rule of the repetition of 2016 polls results. Biden, who is sitting pretty with over 50% vote share in recent months and also established a clear 10-point lead on occasions, yet his victory cannot be guaranteed. This is in the wake of Trump narrowing down ever since he hit the campaign trial couple of days back. He brought down the gap to 6 per cent.

His emotive speeches especially his growing ties with India, or taking on rogue China, which destroyed world economy, appears to be getting acceptance from those ‘neutral’ voters to change their opinion about Trump and his alleged follies, which include his failure to contain racism. Trump looks more than confident of his victory as he appears to relying more on the 2 million Indian-Americans, to turn tables on his Democrat rival Joe Biden.
Play the video of his election speech

Like in 2016 polls, which were too far less clear as in case of the prevailing and just a couple of percentage points separated Trump and his then-rival Hillary Clinton at several points as election day neared.

As Mrs Clinton discovered in 2016, the number of votes you win is less important than where you win them.

Most states nearly always vote the same way, meaning that in reality there are just a handful of states where both candidates stand a chance of winning. These are the places where the election will be won and lost and are known as battleground states.

In the electoral-college system the US uses to elect its president and each state is given a number of votes based on its population. A total of 538 electoral-college votes are up for grabs, so a candidate needs to hit 270 to win. The polls suggest Mr Biden is ahead in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – three industrial states his Republican rival won by margins of less than 1% to clinch victory in 2016.

At the moment, polls in the battleground states look good for Joe Biden, but there’s a long way to go and things can change very quickly, especially when Donald Trump’s involved.
Especially, in the battleground states where Trump won big in 2016 that his campaign team will be most worried about. His winning margin in Iowa, Ohio and Texas was between 8-10% back then but it’s looking much closer in all three at the moment.

Added to it is the betting markets not certainly not writing Trump off just yet. The latest odds give him a 50% chance of winning on 3rd November, which suggests some people expect the outlook to change a lot over the next few weeks. But political analysts are less convinced about his chances of re-election. FiveThirtyEight, a political analysis website, says Biden is “favored” to win the election, while The Economist says he is “likely” to beat Trump.

The coronavirus pandemic has dominated headlines in the US since the start of the year and the response to President Trump’s actions has been split predictably along party lines. Support for his approach peaked in mid-March after he declared a national emergency and made $50 billion available to states to stop the spread of the virus. At this point, 55% of Americans approved of his actions, according to data from Ipsos, a leading polling company.

But any support he had from Democrats disappeared after that, while Republicans continued to back their president. By July, the data suggested his own supporters had begun to question his response – but there was a slight uptick at the end of August. The virus is likely to be at the forefront of voters’ minds and one leading model produced by experts at the University of Washington predicts the death toll will have risen to about 260,000 people by election day.

Yet, Trump may be hoping Operation Warp Speed, his administration’s vaccine initiative, can produce an “October surprise” – a last-minute event that turns the election upside down. The chief scientific adviser to the initiative has said it’s “extremely unlikely but not impossible” that a vaccine could be ready to distribute before 3 November.

It’s easy to dismiss the polls by saying they got it wrong in 2016 and President Trump frequently does exactly that. But it’s not entirely true.

Most national polls did have Hillary Clinton ahead by a few percentage points, but that doesn’t mean they were wrong, since she won three million more votes than her rival. Pollsters did have some problems in 2016 – notably a failure to properly represent voters without a college degree – meaning Trump’s advantage in some key battleground states wasn’t spotted until late in the race, if at all. Most polling companies have corrected this now.

But this year there’s even more uncertainty than normal due to the coronavirus pandemic and the effect it’s having on both the economy and how people will vote in November, so all polls should be read with some scepticism, especially this far out from election day. Interestingly, Trump’s ‘Modi card” hope to ensure Indian-American voters may help him bring cheers. Who knows?

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